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Joe Kennedy ‘proud to stand with’ Jason Collins 04.29.13 at 2:52 pm ET
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Joe Kennedy (AP)

Joe Kennedy (AP)

Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, who roomed with former Celtics center Jason Collins at Stanford University, issued the following statement about his friend’s decision to come out as the first openly gay athlete in any major American sport:

“For as long as I’ve known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he’s got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I’m proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.”

Kennedy played a vital role in Collins’ decision to write a Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality. Here’s what Collins said about his Cardinal roommate:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton declared on Twitter, “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” in addition to issuing the following statement on his website:

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Celtics coach Doc Rivers ‘proud of’ Jason Collins at 2:09 pm ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers issued this statement after former C’s center Jason Collins became the first openly gay active player in major American sports:

“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite ‘team’ players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be. It’s not up to you, it’s just me being me.’”

Outing himself in this Sports Illustrated article, Collins quoted Rivers: “If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.”

As recently as three weeks ago, Rivers discussed the inevitability of an openly gay NBA player. “There’ll be a lot of talk about it, and then I think it will go away,” Rivers said before a Celtics practice on April 9, the day after he took the team to watch the “42″ film about Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.

SI’s Ian Thomsen caught up with Rivers after Collins’ announcement on Monday.

“He is terrific,” Rivers told Thomsen. “Losing him was hard for me because I just thought he was such a great teammate and such a great guy in the locker room. That’s what you want is those guys in your locker room.”

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Kenyon Martin guarantees Celtics ‘funeral’ in Game 5 at 11:25 am ET
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Kevin Garnett, Kenyon Martin

Kevin Garnett and Kenyon Martin like to talk. (AP)

On his way into TD Garden on Sunday, a Celtics fan who watched his team fall into a 3-0 hole in the first round admitted, “It feels like I’m going to a wake.”

Celtics guard Jason Terry, who provided the sunshine in a Game 4 victory, must have felt it, too.

“The guy was mouthing off before the game,” Knicks forward Kenyon Martin told the New York Daily News. “He told me, ‘You’re not dancing at my funeral today.’”

Terry’s 18 points, including the C’s final nine in their 97-90 overtime win, made true on that promise. So, Martin made his own vow to lay the Celtics to rest in Game 5.

“We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin told the Daily News, requesting his teammates “wear black. Funeral colors.”

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Kevin Garnett: ‘It’s all out from here on out’ 04.28.13 at 7:42 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett isn’t making any excuses for the way the Celtics played in the first three games of this series.

“We put ourselves in this 3-0 position,” said Garnett after his team’s 97-90 win over the Knicks. “That’s not where you want to be as a team, but it’s what it is. Today we fought for another day, and we’ll do the same Wednesday.”

Garnett grabbing 17 rebounds for the second straight game while adding 13 points on just seven shots and dishing out six assists, helping the C’s avoid a sweep for the first time since 2004.

“If we want to survive and continue to play, this is what it is,” said Garnett. “This is the position we put ourselves in. To continue to play, we’ve got to continue to win, so it’s all out from here on out.”

Garnett insisted their mentality never changed between Games 3 and 4. Shots started falling. That’s it.

“Instead of talking, we actually came out and did it,” he said after the C’s scored 80 points for the first time all series. “There wasn’t a lot of verbal. This is it. We were down 3-0. What else is there to say?”

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Fast Break: Jason Terry saves Celtics season at 4:12 pm ET
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The Knicks erased a 20-point second-half deficit and took their first lead of the game with 78 seconds remaining on a Raymond Felton jumper. It took a 17-footer from Kevin Garnett and two Carmelo Anthony misses just to force overtime. But Jason Terry finally came up clutch, scoring the C’s final nine points for a 97-90 OT victory.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce played 50 minutes, totaling 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help avoid a sweep and force a Game 5 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Pierce, Garnett (13 points, 17 rebounds), Terry (18 points) and Jeff Green (26 points) combined for 86 of the C’s 97 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Melo out: Without J.R. Smith to share the load, Carmelo Anthony (36 points) tried to put the Knicks on his back, but Brandon Bass had other ideas. Bass gave Anthony fits, even jawing with the MVP candidate, holding him to 10-of-35 shooting and forcing him into seven turnovers. The rest of the Knicks didn’t help, shooting 34 percent from the field, but it started with a valiant effort from Bass, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.

Closing out: While the Knicks looked to close out the series, the C’s just hoped to close out a quarter. And for once they did. In the second, they finished the final two minutes on a 12-3 run. Pierce, who looked cooked in Game 3, scored eight of his 17 first-half points in 72 seconds, and then assisted on Jason Terry’s 16-foot jumper that beat the clock. The result? A 54-35 advantage that helped punch their plane ticket back to New York.

Green with emotion: Green’s recipe for success is simple: attack, attack, attack. The guy who stands around the perimeter watching his teammates take jump shots isn’t so good. In the span of 44 seconds of the second quarter, Green stampeded his way to the basket for a running five-footer and got to the line twice more on drives to the hole. In other words, he attacked, attacked, attacked, and the result was 26 points and six boards.

WHAT WENT WRONG

First mistake: The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter while holding the Knicks to 6-of-18 shooting and forcing six New York turnovers. And thanks to an off-balance Anthony and-1 to close out the first quarter, the C’s only led 22-17. That five-point lead should’ve been 15. Allowing the Knicks to stick around was a dangerous game, even if the Celtics ended up taking a 19-point lead into halftime.

Handle without care: Turnovers cost the Celtics Games 1 and 3. Their offense practically must execute to perfection to compete with New York’s potent attack, and coughing up opportunities before they even get off a shot compounds the problem. Yet, the Celtics committed 16 turnovers on Sunday. Dumb ones, too, like Avery Bradley throwing a pass to someone in the fourth row and Pierce’s failed feeding of Bass on a fast break.

Foul mood: Midway through the second quarter, Garnett picked up his third foul from an officiating crew that featured C’s coach Doc Rivers‘ nemesis Bill Kennedy. Minutes later, Green picked up his third, and Bass joined the club two seconds before halftime. Within five minutes of the third quarter, all three had four fouls. Of course, Anthony and Tyson Chandler had four before the fourth quarter, too. But with little faith in Chris Wilcox or Shavlik Randolph off the bench, Rivers pulled Garnett but left Green and Bass to defend the paint. Bass soon picked up his fifth, and the Knicks closed within three on an 11-1 run to end the third, setting up a nail-biting fourth quarter and overtime.

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OT save: Jason Terry leads the C’s to win and Game 5 at 4:05 pm ET
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Jeff Green (8) and the Celtics were all over Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks early. (AP)

Jeff Green (8) and the Celtics were all over Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks early. (AP)

The Celtics live to fight another day.

Jason Terry nailed a go-ahead three with 90 seconds left in overtime and scored Boston’s final seven points as the Celtics overcame blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and beat the Knicks, 97-90, in Game 4 Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. With the win, the Celtics stave off elimination and will play the Knicks in Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, trailing the series, 3-1.

In a season filled with a record 11 overtime games, Game 4 appropriately came down to an extra period.

Paul Pierce scored 29, Jeff Green added 26 and Kevin Garnett chipped in with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Celtics, who blew a 20-point third quarter lead. Carmelo Anthony had 36 points while Raymond Felton added 27 for New York, which was playing without the suspended J.R. Smith.

For the third time in the series, the Celtics took a halftime lead but this time Celtics were overpowering in building their advantage. The Celtics shot 50 percent in the first quarter, as Pierce led the way with seven points and the Celtics led, 22-17 after one.

Pierce led the charge against the Knicks in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 17 first-half points. Led by a pair of Pierce threes late, Boston went on a 19-6 run to end the second quarter and grabbed a 54-35 halftime lead. The Knicks were extremely sloppy in the first half, committing 13 turnovers.

Green was also huge in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 15 first-half points and helping Boston outscore New York, 32-18. It took four games but the Celtics produced their best half of offensive basketball, making 20-of-39 shots (51.3 percent).

Fouls became a huge issue in the third quarter.

Garnett, Green all picked up their fourth fouls in the first four minutes. The Knicks were in the bonus with 7:12 left in the third quarter. Still, the Celtics managed a 20-point lead at 59-39. But the Knicks – led by Raymond Felton – finally got hot from 3-point range.

Carmelo Anthony’s jumper with 6:44 left in the third capped an 8-0 Knicks run and cut the lead to 12, 59-47. After a Green layup, the Knicks collected a loose ball rebound and Raymond Felton drilled a three, cutting Boston’s lead to 11, 61-50.

Anthony was called for his fourth foul moments later and the Celtics regained momentum, building the lead back to 14. But Felton hit his third three with three minutes left in the quarter to pare the lead down to 10, 65-55. Anthony came out of the game with 3:35 left in the third and the Knicks down, 14. Without their MVP, Felton and Iman Shumpert led the Knicks on a 14-3 surge to end the third quarter, including a three with 0.2 seconds left in quarter as Boston led by just three, 68-65, heading into the final quarter. Terry hit another jumper with 50.4 second left to re-establish the three-point lead, 93-90.

After a Garnett free throw on an illegal defense call, Anthony hit a layup to cut the Boston lead to two. Pierce answered with a deep three with 9:40 left to put Boston up, 72-67. An Iman Shumpert steal of Pierce and layup with 7:16 left tied the game, 74-74.
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Doc Rivers puts Brandon Bass back in starting lineup for Jason Terry at 12:29 pm ET
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Brandon Bass (top) was put back in the lineup Sunday for his toughness on Carmelo Anthony. (AP)

Brandon Bass (top) was put back in the lineup Sunday for his toughness on Carmelo Anthony. (AP)

Noting that he really likes his defense on Carmelo Anthony, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that he is re-inserting Brandon Bass into the starting lineup, as Jason Terry heads back to his more customary role off the bench.

Bass will join Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green in the starting lineup.

“I just like Brandon on Melo more,” Rivers said. “Like I said [Saturday], the smaller lineup, the numbers actually say it’s better, but I like our defense better the other way.”

The Celtics will face a Knicks team in Game 4 that will be without “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith, suspended for the game after throwing an elbow in the face of Terry with seven minutes left in Game 3. Smith, who was averaging 16.3 points in the first three games, was assessed a “Flagrant Foul 2″ for the violation and was suspended by the NBA on Saturday.

What will be the biggest impact of the Knicks losing their second-leading scorer?

“Listen, he’s one of their other guys that can create shots and, especially in the playoffs, you need a guy,” Rivers said. “You think about what we’ve done good in this series, the Knicks are being held 13 points under their normal [scoring] average. And J.R. Smith has played well, because in the playoffs you take teams out of their stuff, and it comes down to guys creating shots for themselves and others. Well, Melo does that, [Raymond Felton] has done that, and J.R. Smith does that. Now they don’t have one of those guys.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to take the first step on the path to NBA history as no team has ever overcome an 0-3 hole in the postseason.

“Obviously when one team is in an elimination situation, and the other team is not, it’s mental really for both,” Rivers said. “I’m not going to concern myself with their mental, but with ours, it’s all mental, it always is.”

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